Former Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has agreed a two-year contract extension with Yokohama F. Marinos, after a tumultuous first year in Japan saw the club escape the ignominy of a relegation play-off on goal difference.
The deal has yet to be formally announced, but sources in Japan have confirmed that the City Football Group - which owns 20 per cent of the J.1 club and runs its football department - have nailed Postecoglou down until 2021.
The 53-year-old’s existing contract was due to expire at the end of 2019.
It’s a show of faith in the coach who wasn’t without his critics in his debut campaign, with Yokohama flirting with the bottom three until the last day of the season.
Conversely, Postecoglou - who quit the Socceroos after guiding them to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia - steered Yokohama to the J.League Cup Final, where they lost 1-0 to Shonan Bellmare.
Their goal difference - second only to champions Kawasaki Frontale offensively but the third worst defensively - was reflective of Postecoglou’s trademark devil-may-care, freewheeling style.
Yokohama netted 56 times in 34 games, conceding the same number in finishing 12th on the 18-team ladder with 41 points.
After a rocky start to Postecoglou’s reign, the team found a form surge, only to lose five of their last six to plunge back into trouble and finish the year with a whimper after Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Cerezo Osaka.
Postecoglou was given scant funds to play with and had to make do with the bulk of the squad which finished fifth the previous season, and reached the Emperor’s Cup Final, under Frenchman Erick Mombaerts.
Whilst the contract extension represents a tick of approval, Postecoglou’s ultimate aim is to coach a European club, with Spanish La Liga outfit Girona, which is majority owned by the CFG, one future possibility should he remain in the employ of the Abu Dhabi-based powerbroker which has a portfolio of six clubs across the globe, including Manchester City and Melbourne City.
A strong second J.1 season would, of course, make him a more plausible prospect for a host of clubs across the Continent.
He did have a brief stint in charge of Greek club PanachaikI back in 2008, and was recently linked with the Greek national team job.